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There are many differences between different leaf shredders, and knowing what to consider can help narrow the choices. The first thing to look at is the size of the shredder, because it will need to be manageable for the person using it. Features such as the mobility of the unit, the weight and the power source are all important considerations. The tasks the leaf shredder will be expected to perform need to be examined to ensure that the machine has the necessary power and versatility. The long-term viability of the leaf shredder also needs to be considered, because blades, screens, lines and other parts will wear out over time and might need to be replaced.
The size of a leaf shredder can make a difference in how it is used. A tall shredder usually has the feeding area on the top, meaning anything that has to go in must be lifted. Thanks to gravity, this helps the machine to shred the leaves more efficiently but also might wear on the knees and back of the person using it. Models that have adjustable bases or knobs to allow the unit to be tilted will provide more options for use.
When choosing a leaf shredder, the size of the engine should be considered. A low-horsepower engine will be limited to shredding dry leaves. A medium-size engine will be able to handle wet leaves to some extent, as well as twigs and thin branches. A high-horsepower, heavy-duty engine can usually double as a wood chipper and will make short work of nearly all organic garden waste. The size of a leaf shredder is usually proportional to the strength of the engine, as is the weight of the machine.
One important, but sometimes overlooked, aspect of a leaf shredder is the type of blades that are used. Some models use plastic cords that are tied around a spindle as blades. These are very effective are shredding dry leaves, are inexpensive to replace, but often wear out very quickly. Metal blades are stronger but also more expensive and can be difficult to replace and remove when they need to be sharpened. Metal blades also are inflexible, meaning that a stone or branch making it to the blades might jam or cause damage.
The area where the leaves exit the leaf shredder also can help decide what unit would be best. If there is very little space between the ground and the bottom of the shredder, then the shredded leaves will have to be raked up or the unit used only over a tarp or drop cloth. When there is a good amount of space present between the shredder and the ground, buckets, cans or leaf bags can be placed under the unit and filled easily.
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